Game one has come and gone. The Twins fell 10-4 in 8 1/2 gut wrenching innings. Manager Rocco Baldelli will send Randy Dobnak to the hill in game two today at Yankee Stadium. Here are the keys to victory for the standout rookie:
1. Get ahead in the count
Dobnak has portrayed an exceptional ability to throw strikes. Dobnak sports phenomenal per-nine numbers: 1.6 BB, 7.3 K, and 0.3 HR. His unique ability to limit fly balls gives him a substantial advantage at Yankee Stadium. When Dobnak gets ahead in the count, he allows a .180/.196/.180 (.376) line to opponents. Like most teams, the Yankees struggle when behind. They hit just .209/.217/.366 (.583) when pitchers have the advantage in the count. The Bronx Bombers look awfully human when they see a few more strikes than balls on the scoreboard. In an 0-2 count, the Yankees have a .138 average and .390 OPS.
2. Win the first pitch
This may be a piggyback of the above, but this start could be a war of the first pitch. Dobnak has held opponents to a .494 OPS on the first pitch. The Yankees have a 1.157 OPS on the first pitch. These are extreme numbers on both ends, and the winner of this battle will have a huge advantage.
3. Be himself
Dobnak is here for a reason. Starting the year at Class A, the rookie has pitched well at every turn. Dobnak has gotten better at almost every level. He posted a 0.40 ERA in Fort Myers (A), 2.57 ERA in Pensacola (AA), 2.15 ERA in Rochester (AAA), and an impressive 1.59 ERA for the Twins. Baldelli trusts him, and Twins Territory should too.
Go Twins! Enjoy the game!